It’s interesting the things you find after someone is long gone. Revisiting that box of letters from an old boyfriend tucked inside a childhood bedroom closet at your parents’ house is like visiting another life. Your teenage self, falling in and out of love.
Mine is a more permanent lost and found. It’s deeper than the nostalgic first love–it’s the loss of a parent, and that feeling of the missing never quite goes away. They say losing a parent, no matter if you’re 14, 24, or 64, it changes you significantly and in ways you cannot imagine. You’re forced to grow up and deal with something those around you aren’t quite equipped to understand (unless they’ve been through it themselves).
Every so often I’ll stumble on a couple of things from my father that will stop me dead in my tracks. Above all, it is his inscription on two reference books I use often for work (yes, sometimes, I actually use books in lieu of Google). One is a soft cover, torn from age and use, military issue word division style manual published in 1984. The inscription reads (in his very recognizable all caps):
3 APR 1986
I HOPE THIS BOOK HELPS, IN SOME SMALL WAY, YOU ACHIVE YOUR DREAMS IN SPACE.
That was my astronaut phase. Before I realized I was incredibly claustrophobic and needed solid math skill set to do anything pertaining to the sciences.
The other, the hard back Merriam Webster’s Collegiate Tenth Edition Dictionary given to me as a stocking stuffer that couldn’t quite fit in the stocking one Christmas.
Inside it has Presented to, By, and Date printed by the book manufacture all ready for someone gifting to fill out, which my father did.
Presented to MY LOVELY DANA
MAY THE WORDS AND THE TRUTH ALWAYS COME EASY FOR YOU. YOUR SUCCESS INSPIRES ME!! LOVE, FOREVER DRH
By HER FATHER
Date DECEMBER 25, 1994
Because of this, I always try to take my time when filling out cards or book inscriptions. You never know if these might be the last words someone is left with that they’ll reread over and over again.